Dogfish Head is known for their bold, experimental beers, barrel aging, weird barrel aging, and an off-centered (their term - see their standard 12 ounce pint glass) ingredient roster. If they can get their hands on it and get it to impart a flavor on their beers, they'll brew with it. Nothing they do is truly ordinary. So, the unusual nature of their barrel-aged India Pale Ale is no surprise. Welcome to the Burton Baton Ale. To make this beer, Dogfish blends an imperial IPA with another high-gravity ale then oak barrels the mixture for a month.
The results are stunning. It has a spectacular color, rich amber. It oozes of carbonation, billowing into a large fluffy head that you have to knife through to access the good stuff. The nose smells of grapefruit and pine hops, flowers, spices, and a hint of vanilla from the oak. It has a silky texture like a barleywine and its body is light and effervescent. The flavor is initially spicy and rife with citrus, with soft toast flavors from the oak. Despite all this finesse, it finishes with a strong rugged hop bitterness. Yet the hop assertion at the end is controlled well by the softening of the oak, the array of other flavors, and the exquisite texture. The otherwise fierce hop presence is thereby made much more tolerable and never punishing.
Given the high ABV, strong hop presence and spectrum of flavors, this is a beer I want one of. Yet, that's like saying that due to its length, I only want to watch The Departed once in an evening. This is a tremendous beer that's well worth revisiting. You know, tomorrow.
4.7 out of 5 stars. Exceptional accomplishment. Where can I get this on tap?